Journalist Gunnar Smári Egilsson, the founder of the Socialist Party of Iceland, has called for the statue of Ingólfr Arnarson, the island nation's founding father, to be taken down, referring to it as a justification of the Black Lives Matter movement.
According to Gunnar Smári Egilsson, Ingólfr Arnarson, the first permanent settler of Iceland, “murdered” and oppressed “freedom heroes” and traded and owned slaves. Therefore, he wants to replace the statue of the founder of Iceland with that of slaves and rioters.
“Now that the peoples of the world are dropping statues of slave traders and slave owners, Icelanders may wonder whether we should keep this guy for much longer. This is Ingólfr Arnarson, who violently quenched the first popular uprising in Icelandic history, when he murdered the freedom heroes Dufþak and Helga in the Westman Islands, slaves who had revolted against their oppressor Hjörleifr”, Gunnar Smári Egilsson wrote on his Facebook page.
The statue of Ingólfr Arnarson by sculptor Einari Jónsson has adorned Reykjavik since 1924. Ingólfr Arnarson is known to be Iceland's first settler and the founder of its capital in 874. He earlier left his native Norway over a blood feud.
As columnist Þór Þórðarson of the news outlet Helluland News pointed out, Ingólfr Arnarson “did own slaves indeed, like every Norseman at the time”. However, none of them were black (primarily Irish or other Nordics), he wrote, calling the BLM reference “all the more bizarre”. He also stressed that most slaves in Iceland owned slaves themselves at some point. Lastly, he emphasised that Ingólfr Arnarson did not murder anyone according to modern standards. He “lawfully executed terrorists who were plotting a rebellion”, Þórðarson stressed.
Since the death of African American George Floyd at the hands of US police, Black Lives Matter activists have been rallying to remove the statues of historic figures seen as “colonisers”, “oppressors”, and “slave traders”.
Across the US and Europe, statues have been attacked with paint, vandalised, and even demolished by the mob. Among those that have been razed are statues of Belgian King Leopold II, the colonial ruler of the Congo Free State, slave trader Edward Colston, Christopher Columbus, one of America's founding fathers Thomas Jefferson, and numerous Confederate commanders from the US Civil War.